by Tom Utescher
Last Sunday on the Schuylkill both Northwest Philly Inter-Ac League crew teams were in action in the fourth of the five annual Manny Flick regattas, and a little sampling of Friends Schools League talent was thrown in courtesy of the fledgling rowing program at Germantown Friends.
After a chilly start, the weather warmed up with bright sunshine. There was a persistent breeze, but nothing like the strong gusts that had whipped up whitecaps on the river the previous weekend.
Once April arrives the Flick regattas split the schedule according to gender, and last Sunday all the girls’ races were held in order, followed by the boys’ events in the afternoon.
At Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, new girls head coach Julia Rorer (an alumna from 2005) has enjoyed a strong turnout this spring. SCH hasn’t traditionally been in the solo boat business, but they had an excellent singles rower last year in Jen Sager (now in the varsity eight at Trinity College), and they have another promising single sculler this spring in freshman Melanie Bender.
She has won each of her two races handily thus far, finishing last Sunday in seven minutes, 9.01 seconds to eclipse the other entries, including the runner-up from Downingtown STEM Academy (it’s an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), who finished in 7:27.12. A number of other top-three finishes followed.
SCH’s Samira Baird and Alexa Schwartz were third in their flight of the novice double, and their time of 6:26.37 was fourth-fastest out of two flights in the event. Also turning in a third-place finish in its flight was the Blue Devils’ novice four, which had Jill Silverman as coxswain and was propelled by (stroke to bow) Lauren McCormack, Lexi Smilow, Allison Day, and Ellery Crandall. They were timed in 6:26.76, faster than any boat in the other flight in their category.
Germantown Friends first raced a girls novice quad two weekends ago. The Tigers won their debut and they were the fastest foursome again last weekend, both in their own flight, and overall. Rowing out of Bachelors Barge Club (also known as the Orphans’ Home for its tradition of accommodating rowers from schools without a formal crew program), GFS rookies Sophie Bartholomew, Becca Genyk, Tessa Curry, and Addie McKenzie clocked in at 6:05.33, while the next best time was 6:28.
In the second flight of the same event, the Penn Charter foursome of Gina Kim, Jay Dunmore, Jessica Newberg, and Jean Gleason were third in 7:13.84. The Quakers also have a new head coach this year, as longtime assistant Ann Marie Kuvik has taken over the helm.
In the first flight of the freshman quad, North Jersey’s Montclair High School took first in 6:11, but in the other flight SCH trumped that time with its winning figure of 6:06.67. The line-up here was Aakanksha Sharma, Maddi Bell, Carly Plotkin, and Cara Stapleton.
Next, Charter sent out two JV doubles in different flights. Hannah Kramer and Rachel Gordon went first and wound up third in their flight, in 6:30.06. In the second section, Celina McCall and Isa Djerassi placed second in 6:17.93, the third fastest time in the category.
Both PC and SCH had entries in the lightweight double class. Racing first, Blue Devils Alana Noble and Maddy Canning earned runner-up status in what was clearly the faster of the two flights, crossing the line at 6:03.89. In the next race, Liza Gendler and Sabrina Pogrebivsky of the Quakers were fourth in 6:32.24.
Penn Charter’s longtime combo of Heidi Zisselman and Maria Georgiou were seeded in the fast heat of the senior double, where they finished fourth in 5:51.07.
A stomach bug making the rounds at SCH was partly responsible for Coach Rorer crossing out two entries, a JV quad and a varsity double, but the Devils did race a varsity quad, and it was in the second of three flights along with a boat from Penn Charter.
The Blue Devils (Anna Rose Bedrosian, Liz McClafferty, Chelsea Richardson, Karley Kochenour) won the race in 5:37.15, with the Quakers’ quartet (Katie O’Malley, Maddie Perlmutter, Claudia Stedman, Tara Malone) coming in third in 5:49.21. The time turned in by the SCH ladies ranked them fifth in the overall field of 15 crews, with Conestoga High School setting the standard at 5:12.05.
Not long after that the boys’ racing got underway, but it didn’t go particularly well for area freshmen and novices. Things picked up in the JV contests, where Springside Chestnut Hill’s Mark Miller and James Meadows easily won their flight of the JV double in 5:17.85, with Penn Charter’s Peter Ciarocchi and Chad Coursen taking second in 5:36.47.
In the same flight another PC double finished fourth in 5:56.90, with Jimmy Paolini and Conor Foley at the oars. Miller and Meadows’ time also held up as the best result out of all 17 boats, topping the 5:20.16 put up in an earlier flight by victorious St. Joe’s Prep.
Like the girls, the SCH boys and first-year head coach Meredith Mariani had to scratch several boats from the original list of entries, doing away with a JV single and a JV quad.
The older brother of Germantown Friends’ Becca Genyk, junior Ethan Genyk, competed in a lightweight double along with stroke seater Greg Goldstein. The Tiger tandem placed third in their flight, with their time of 5:40.65 ranking them ahead of one boat in their own race and two in the other flight.
The only other male rower for GFS, senior Andrew Bair, found himself in the speediest of three flights in the varsity single. He was fourth in his section at 5:53.98, a time which was also fourth-fastest out of a total of 15 boats.
There were also three flights in the varsity double, and there were two Charter duos among the 16 twosomes in that class. The top time was turned in by Bonner/Prendergast High School, 5:07.29, while the runner-up in that flight, and second-fastest overall, was the scull staffed by the Quakers’ Kevin Kelly and Spencer Grant (5:09.57).
Things didn’t move along as quickly in the other two sections, including the third flight, where PC’s Ethan Ashley and Stanton Young came in fourth in 6:02.88.
Last up for the locals was the varsity quad, featuring SCH and PC boats both racing in the second of two flights. The quickest overall was the better of the two foursomes sent out by Inter-Ac rival Malvern Prep, which won the first race in 4:34.10. The Friars’ “B” boat took top honors in the second flight (4:46.10), where SCH (Jaime MacEachern, Seth Bakes, Graham Ervin, Alec Horter) was fourth in 5:07.96, and Charter (Ed Point, Erich Riedlmeier, Sam Jolinger, Jack Delaney) was fifth in 5:16.62.